There are clear legal requirements on those who share premises (ie if parts of their building are occupied by other companies/organisations or where they work on a shared site) to “cooperate and coordinate” on health and safety issues. This is because there may be special and often increased risks when premises and sites are shared. Therefore, if you share your premises with others, then this Bulletin will be relevant to you and you should pay attention to these risks and take appropriate positive action.
Some shared workplaces have “common areas” that are under the control of the Landlord rather than the occupier/s of the premises. Also, it is not uncommon for shared workplaces to have shared services, such as fixed electrical installation, gas supply, and fire safety systems (including alarms and emergency lighting and sprinklers). Sharing premises with others can mean an increase in risks to health and safety because one company can affect risks to another. Sharing premises also has the potential for misunderstanding and communication problems. The risks involved in shared premises need to be carefully managed and this must start with an effective risk assessment process.
The legal requirements relating to shared premises are clear and should be understood by all occupants. The main legal requirement is the common law duty of care; therefore those sharing premises have a common law duty of care to each other and must consider this when carrying out their normal work activities and processes. If parties sharing premises do not fulfil their common law duty of care, they may be subject to costly civil claims in the case of injury or loss to a “neighbour”.
Statute law also imposes a duty of care on those who share premises. The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 states that employers must consider the health and safety of those they do not employ in addition to the duty to take care of their own employee’s health, safety and welfare. This will include employees of other companies sharing sites and buildings. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that where two or more employers share a workplace (whether on a temporary or a permanent basis) each such employer shall co-operate, co-ordinate and communicate with each other with the sole objective of ensuring the health and safety of all working at and visiting the premises.
If you are a Contract Client then you can download the full article here which detail who is responsible for what and gives you a number of pointers. If you are not a Contract Client then you can find out more information on this service here.